02
November
2016
|
08:28 PM
America/New_York

Defenders of Wildlife Opens New Office in Santa Fe

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Catalina Tresky: (202) 772-0253 or ctresky@defenders.org

 

Defenders of Wildlife Opens New Office in Santa Fe

SANTA FE, New Mexico (November 2, 2016) – Defenders of Wildlife is proud to announce the opening of a new regional office today in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The group has maintained staff and conservation programs in Arizona and New Mexico for over 25 years. The Santa Fe office is being opened to bring a renewed vigor and focus on protecting and recovering keystone species such as the Mexican gray wolf, jaguar, ocelot and lesser prairie chicken. Defenders will also protect focal landscapes and habitats in the Southwest including: the Southern-Rockies-Upper Rio Grande Bioregion, the Sky Islands-Greater Gila Bioregion and the Colorado Plateau.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:

“Defenders of Wildlife has worked in the Southwest region for over 25 years, but with the opening of the Santa Fe office, we are doubling down on our commitment and action to help recover the Mexican gray wolf, jaguar, ocelot, lesser prairie chicken and other keystone species and landscapes that are a vital part of America’s natural heritage in the Southwest.

“I’m particularly pleased to participate in the Santa Fe office opening. Nearly 20 years ago I participated in the first re-introduction of Mexican gray wolves back into the Southwest landscape. The Mexican gray wolf is racing extinction, and Defenders of Wildlife is doing everything we can to bring the most endangered gray wolf in the world back from the brink.”

Bryan Bird, Southwestern program director for Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:

“The Southwest region of the United States is unique in character, in its landscapes and in its wildlife. We are lucky to have spectacular landscapes and unique flora and fauna that depend on those landscapes such as the Mexican gray wolf, the jaguar and the ocelot.

“Unfortunately like so many areas of the country, habitat destruction threatens our wildlife and landscapes. Now, with climate change the Southwest is getting hotter, changing the habitats of key desert-dwelling species.

“That’s why Defenders will extend our work from this key location, working on the ground, in the courts and through advocacy at the local, state and federals levels. Defenders of Wildlife is doing everything we can to preserve biodiversity in the Southwest for present and future generations.”

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Background:

The American Southwest

From the snow-covered peaks of the Southern Rocky Mountains - over 13,000 feet above sea level - down to the saguaro cactus forests of the Sonoran Desert borderlands, the U.S. Southwest is unparalleled in natural beauty. Both the Colorado River and the Rio Grande course through the region sustaining wildlife and people. The region is famed for American natural heritage icons such as the Grand Canyon and Greater Chaco Canyon and encompasses 47 national wildlife refuges.

Wildlife in the Southwest

Several major ecosystems converge in the Southwest, including the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Plateau, the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts and the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico.

The region is home to over 118 federally protected endangered or threatened species — from Mexican gray wolves to Canada lynx — and 11 candidate and proposed species. Arizona currently has 65 animal and plant species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (44 animals and 21 plants); New Mexico has 53 (40 animals and 13 plants).

Wildlife in the Southwest, like wildlife across the country, faces threats from climate change, such as an increase in invasive species and change in habitat structure and function, which will likely result in changes in population distribution and life cycles.

Defenders in the Southwest

Defenders’ presence in the Southwest stretches as far back as 1972, when it owned and managed the Aravaipa Canyon Preserve until 1986. Celebrated Southwestern environmentalist and author Edward Abbey worked for Defenders as the preserve's caretaker to safeguard the area's wildlife.

The Southwest program today works on the ground, in the courts and through advocacy at the local, state and federal levels to preserve, protect and recover native species in their habitats. Our staff provide policy expertise to support conservation of Mexican gray wolves, jaguar, black-footed ferret, yellow-billed cuckoo, southwest willow flycatcher, native fish -- among others -- and their habitats. We also protect focal landscapes such as the Sky Islands-Greater Gila Bioregion and the Southern Rocky Mountains-Upper Rio Grande Basin.

Defenders is now expanding its reach in the Southwest. We are aiming to expand our work in northern Arizona, New Mexico and Utah and into issues like water withdrawal and the protection and restoration of aquatic and riparian ecosystems.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews. For more on Defenders conservation mission and vision, follow Mrs. Rappaport Clark on Twitter @jclarkprez. For more on Defenders’ Southwest program, follow Mr. Bird at @birdguardian.